Where to Warm Up with Raclette and Fondue in Toulouse
As soon as the temperature drops, I start craving raclette and fondue, the twin peaks of cheesy decadence that are the stars of winter in France.
Gooey cheese, soft potatoes, crusty bread, and decadent charcuterie are where it’s at! If you’re of like mind (and stomach), here’s your guide to warm up with raclette and fondue in Toulouse.
What is raclette and fondue – and what’s the difference?
Raclette, derived from the French verb “racler” which means “to scrape,” is both a type of cheese and a style of preparation. The dish originated in the mountainous regions of Savoy and neighboring Switzerland during the Middle Ages when cow herders would carry cheese with them in the pastures, which they would then warm over the campfire at night and scrape onto bread. Raclette cheese is a semi-hard cows’ milk cheese made in wheels of about 6 kg (13 lb). In restaurants, you most commonly see a half wheel of raclette cheese, positioned flat side up and heated under a lamp. When the top is browned a bubbly, the layer of melted cheese is scraped onto your plate, which could contain roasted potatoes and other veggies, charcuterie, cornichons, and anything else you might want to cover with cheese. At home, slices of raclette cheese are heated on a griddle or in small pans that are then tipped over your plate to the same effect.
While perhaps the more well-known dish, Fondue is actually a much more recent invention. Also of Swiss-Savoyard heritage, it was heavily marketed by the Swiss cheesemakers union starting in the 1930s to encourage the consumption of Gruyere cheese. It consists of a melted cheese mixture served in a communal pot with long forks for dipping bread (or anything else you want). Fondue can be made with many different types of cheese, depending on the type of fondue, but look for easily-melted varieties with good flavor like Comté, Beaufort, Reblochon, or Cantal. It is usually cooked with wine, the pot rubbed with garlic, and topped off with a splash of kirsch or other liquor.
Where can you find raclette and fondue in Toulouse?
Les Fondues de la Daurade
1 Rue Jean Suau 31000
This year-round restaurant offers both fondue and raclette prix-fix menus (minimum 2 people), which include all-you-can-eat roasted potatoes and bread in addition to charcuterie and a small salad. This is one of the best fondue/raclette deals in Toulouse at 16,50 € per person. We dined here last winter and certainly made a dent in the wheel of raclette placed on our table for us to serve ourselves.
Le Grenier de Pépé
1 Rue Denfert Rochereau 31000
In the evenings, they serve several different types of fondue mixtures, depending on your mood, as well as galettes (savory buckwheat crêpes).
2 Chemin de Garbardie 31200, in the Bowling de Gramont
How about an evening of bowling and raclette? It’s possible if you visit, Laraclet’ – the newly-opened raclette restaurant inside the Bowling de Gramont (at the Gallery Commercial d’Auchan in Balma-Gramont). Another all-you-can-eat option at 17 € per person.
9 Place du Capitole 31000
If you’re looking for raclette with a view, look no further than this pop-up restaurant that is installed on the terrace of Les Illustres until sometime in the month of January (last year the original closing date was extended, so watch their Facebook page). They proudly boast cheeses from Xavier Fromagerie and charcuterie from Maison Garcia.
DIY Raclette and Fondue
Having a raclette or fondue soirée at home couldn’t be easier! Raclette grills and fondue sets are available at many home stores in a range of prices, depending on size and quality. All you need to do is visit your local fromager to pick up cheese, stop by the charcutier for a selection of charcuterie, and grab whatever vegetables you want to roast. You fromager can recommend what type of cheese to buy (if you’re lucky, they’ll have several that are good) and how much per person, as well as slice the cheese for you with a special tool. Recommendations for how much cheese to buy range from 200-250 grams per person. For fondue, look for shredded cheese to make the melting easier.
In Toulouse, I recommend Xavier Fromagerie for their expertise and the variety of delicious cheeses they have that are suitable for raclette (at least 4-6 to choose from!) – but there are many, many other good options. If you want to make it really, really easy, Xavier offers a raclette package for 4 people that comes with cheese, a charcuterie platter, a bottle of white wine from Savoy – and even a bag of potatoes to roast at home! Maison Garcia offers a ready-made charcuterie platter (slate platter included) created specifically to eat with raclette and I can definitely recommend it!
Pro-tip: Save time by ordering your cheese and charcuterie ahead of time so that all you have to do is pick it up at the shop! If they are slicing the raclette cheese or arranging a charcuterie platter to order, it can take some time.
What is your favorite way to enjoy melted cheese during the wintertime? Do you know of other places to get raclette or fondue in Toulouse?
Looking for more cheesy decadence? Check out the Marché Victor Hugo tour for a great introduction to shopping in French cheese shops!
Image: © Superbass / CC-BY-SA-4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)